Weekly Thought – May 23, 2017
Fred’s practical approach gave him an objectivity that helped many. He rarely got caught up in seeing something from one vantage point – he liked to consider all angles. And, he didn’t make judgments about decisions (unless they were clearly un-Biblical or downright stupid!) His ability to look at giving through a neutral eye made him an excellent counselor.
Would you all pray for BWFLI as we begin our new initiative: the “What’s Next” conference in 2018 and the “What’s Next Roundtables”… both will explore mentoring, networking, and everyday living faith in depth.
Typology of Gifting
When I look at gifts I try to break them down into categories. Sitting on boards and being close to ministries has given me ample opportunity for this research. Money and ministry are inextricably tied together – often to the dismay of all concerned.
Giving is more than turning over ownership of an asset.
1) Gift as gift. The purest gift is the one that is anonymous. We know about the gift, but the giver is held in anonymity. We think of these not just in amount, but in motive. The classical Biblical example is the widow who quietly gave without throwing the coins into the metal container with pomp and noise. I find that it is sometimes easier to donate smaller amounts anonymously rather than the larger. My friend and mentor Maxey Jarman told of a fundraising dinner which gave people the opportunity to stand up and make open pledges. He said one gentleman stood up, introduced himself, his wife, named his business, gave its location, and then loudly proclaimed they were giving $5000 anonymously!
2) Purchase posing as a gift. In this situation the giver buys recognition or social position. I know of an extremely successful fundraiser who hosts a club for like-minded donors. The catch: You have to give $10,000 each year to belong to the club. I think it would be more accurate to think of this as an expense, rather than a gift. Being known as a member of this club sets one above others. The price of admission really isn’t about giving. Another friend promised a ministry $20million in stock, but kept ownership in order to vote the stock and control the corporation. Ironically, by the time his gift was received by the ministry the value had dropped from $50/share to $1.
3) Attention. This may be crass, but I know people who have discovered the power of being a potential major donor. They receive all the benefits and privileges of those who give but without actually donating. Sadly, too many organizations are afraid to offend such people with “great giving capacity” and treat them with deference.
4) Investment. Donors often speak of their giving in terms of ROI (return on investment). Kingdom work is often difficult to put through a metrics and measurements exercise. Do not misunderstand me. I want ministries to operate with the absolute best practices, for that is excellent stewardship. But there is an element to God’s work that doesn’t fit into a neat formula. I once asked a friend to give to a struggling minister doing excellent, but small, work in the inner city. He quickly informed me he didn’t give to small things. He gave only to those who had the capacity to change the entire system, not just a piece of it.
The philosophy of giving to get back is an example of investment thinking. The human multiplier effect fails when applied to God’s work. He does give an increase, but not because we have manipulated Him.
This week think about: 1) Where is my heart (and my head) when I give? 2) Who can I talk with about proper giving? 3) How can I be helpful to ministries as they think about money?
Words of Wisdom: “Kingdom work is often difficult to put through a metrics and measurements exercise.”
Wisdom from the Word: “Be careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1 NET Bible)